Lansing High wrestlers eye KVL title
As a state champion, Kyle Buehler has attained as big a prize as any Kansas high school wrestler can strive for.
Still, there is another title that the Lansing High senior craves: A Kaw Valley League team title.
Buehler has won three individual KVL titles, but the team championship has eluded LHS all three of those years. Santa Fe Trail won the last two titles with Lansing a close second. Buehler wants that to change this year.
"I really want to win," he said. "I don't think I've ever lost a league match, but every year we've come about as close as possible to winning. It just gets real old.
"Our team's not quite as strong as it was last year, but I don't think Santa Fe is or anybody else is either. We've got a legitimate shot at it."
The Kaw Valley League Tournament is at 9 a.m. Saturday at Mill Valley High School.
Lansing has a number of favorites to win their individual weight classes. Among them are junior Dennis Wood at 103 pounds, Buehler at 140, junior Nick Flynn at 145 and senior Kyle Grape at 152.
Although LHS has potential champions on its roster, that doesn't guarantee a team title. Lansing had six individual champs and two runners-up last year and still didn't win. The reason why was that they didn't accumulate many points in the consolation bracket.
"We know who'll be in the finals, and we know who should win it," Buehler said. "But it's going to come down to that third- and fourth-place match and see who can battle it out on the back side to determine who takes the title."
That means that unless they find their way into the championship matches the biggest X-factors for the Lions could be senior 119-pounder Scott Keller, freshman 130-pounder Jacob Hansen, sophomore 135-pounder Wes Appleget, sophomore 160-pounder Grant Hinckley, sophomore 189-pounder Sean Gowdy, junior 215-pounder Brad Terron and sophomore heavyweight Tyler Strouhal.
The biggest difference-maker in the Lions' title quest could be senior Brad Zink. He has wrestled at 152 pounds all season, but with the return of Grape, a former state champion, Zink relinquishing that weight class and attempting to switch to 171.
"It's going to be kind of tough because I still have two pounds to gain (to be eligible to wrestle in that class) and I have trouble gaining weight because I have a metabolism," Zink said. "But as far as wrestling is concerned, it's not going to be that big of an adjustment because lately I've been practicing against Gowdy and all of those heavier guys."
Lansing last won a KVL title in 1996. The Lions seemed destined to win league titles during each of the past two years, but came up short both times. Flynn said this year should be different.
"Over the years people have just peaked at the wrong time, and this year we are all peaking at the right time," said Flynn, last year's runner-up at 130 pounds.
LHS coach Ron Averill agreed with Flynn, and Averill said he is excited to see what the postseason holds for his team.
"I sense a hunger," he said. "We've had a long, hard season and lots of competition, and the way we've been able to compete and hold our own through that has been an encouragement. I'm anxious to see what the next few weeks have to bring."